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Archie Roach Archie Roach i(A28638 works by) (a.k.a. Archibald William Roach)
Born: Established: 8 Jan 1956 Mooroopna, Shepparton, Shepparton area, Goulburn - Campaspe area, Northern Victoria, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 30 Jul 2022 Warrnambool, Warrnambool area, Western District, Victoria,
Gender: Male
Heritage: Aboriginal ; Aboriginal Yorta Yorta / Yota Yota
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Archie Roach was a singer, songwriter, storyteller, and a gifted artist. He published an autobiography in 2019, and has also collaborated on musical theatre, written children's books, and published his lyrics and poetry.

Born at Framlingham Aboriginal Mission, Roach was taken from his family at an early age as part of the Stolen Generations. He spent some time in institutions before being fostered by a Scottish family. After learning of his Aboriginal family from a letter received from his sister, he left home. Suffering from alcoholism, Roach spent many years on the streets of Adelaide and Melbourne in search of his family and his identity. Roach met his partner Ruby Hunter, a Ngarrindjeri woman from South Australia. Hunter, a singer and songwriter, had also been removed from her family.

In the late 1980s, Roach formed a band called Altogether that played at community festivals and functions around Melbourne and in 1988 played as the opening act for Paul Kelly and the Messengers. In 1990, Roach recorded Charcoal Lane. This album became famous for two songs: Took the Children Away, which was about the forced separation of Aboriginal children from their parents during the implementation of the assimilation policy, and Down City Streets, which was co-written by Ruby Hunter.

Roach has won Aria Awards, Best Indigenous Album and Best New Talent and later a Human Rights television award for Land of the Little Kings, a feature-length documentary about the Stolen Generations. This was a collaboration between independent filmmakers Paul Roberts and Des Kootji Raymond and narrated by Archie Roach. In July 1997, Roach recorded Looking for Butter Boy, working with Malcom Burn, who acclaims Roach as one of the great singers. This album won three Aria Awards in 1998.

Together Roach and Hunter toured with many bands and artists over the years, including Paul Kelly, Weddings Parties Anything, Crowded House, and international artists such as Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Bega, and Patti Smith. In 1992, Roach toured America supporting Joan Armatrading and Bob Dylan and in 1993 returned as guests to Austin's South X South-West music convention. Roach toured the UK and Germany in 1994 and the following year, along with Hunter, Tiddas and Kev Carmody, toured Canada's Music West convention in Vancouver and into Europe. He again toured Europe in 1997 and also China, Japan and Taiwan before returning to Australia for a six week tour in remote communities in Cape York.

HarperCollins published an anthology of Roach's lyrics in 1994 called You Have the Power. In 2010, Roach's album Archie Roach - 1988 won the Deadly Award for Album of the Year and in 2013, Roach was inducted into the National Indigenous Music Awards Hall of Fame.

Over the years, Roach was a guest artist at many Indigenous Festivals across Australia and continued to work and be a representative for his community. He was active in many Aboriginal causes and continues to provide vocals for soundtracks for artists, albums, bands, and films.

Roach's sons have given permission for his name and image to continue to be used, to continue his legacy.


  • 1989 - Koori (with Ruby Hunter)
  • 1990 - Charcoal Lane
  • 1993 - Jamu Dreaming
  • 1997 - Looking for Butterboy
  • 2002 - Sensual Being
  • 2002 - The Tracker
  • 2004 - The Definitive Collection
  • 2005 - Ruby (with Ruby Hunter)
  • 2007 - Journey
  • 2009 - 1988
  • 2012 - Into The Bloodstream
  • 2016 - Let Love Rule
  • 2018 - Dancing with My Spirit
  • 2019 - Tell Me Why
  • 2020 - The Songs of Charcoal Lane (re-recording of Charcoal Lane)


  • 1990 - 'Took the Children Away'
  • 1991 - 'Down City Streets'
  • 1993 - 'From Paradise'
  • 1993 - 'Walking into Doors'
  • 1997 - 'Hold on Tight'
  • 1997 - 'Watching Over Me'
  • 1997 - 'A Child Was Born Here'
  • 2002 - 'All Men Choose the Path They Walk'
  • 2002 - 'Alien Invasion'
  • 2005 - 'A Child Was Born Tonight'
  • 2012 - 'Song to Sing'
  • 2012 - 'We Won't Cry'
  • 2013 - 'Colour of Your Jumper'
  • 2014 - 'Freedom' (Mau Power feat. Archie Roach)
  • 2016 - 'It's Not too Late'
  • 2016 - 'Get Back to the Land'
  • 2019 - 'Open Your Eyes'
  • 2019 - 'Rally Round the Drum' (with Paul Kelly)
  • 2022 - 'One Song'


  • 2004 - The Definitive Collection
  • 2009 - Music Deli Presents Archie Roach 1988
  • 2013 - Creation
  • 2022 - My Songs 1989-2021

Australian Writing and Rock Music affiliation: vocals, songwriter, lyricist, guitar.

Most Referenced Works


  • See also the entry for Archie Roach on the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll:

Personal Awards

2023 recipient Order of Australia Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) For eminent service to the performing arts as a songwriter and musician, to Indigenous rights and reconciliation, and through support for emerging First Nations artists.
2021 recipient Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Individuals and Groups
2020 winner Australian of the Year VIC Australian of the Year

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Songs from the Kitchen Table Cammeray : Simon and Schuster Australia , 2023 26656163 2023 selected work lyric/song prose essay

'The ultimate illustrated commemoration of iconic Australian musicians, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter – including lyrics, stories, photographs and tributes.  

'A year after he entered the Dreamtime, Archie Roach’s spirit continues to soar, much like the wedge-tailed eagle – his totem animal from his mother's ancestral lands. Archie's songs stand as anthems for the experience of dispossession, and have touched the lives of many with their empathetic message of shared humanity.

'Songs from the Kitchen Table is a tribute to the power of Archie’s voice, and to the career he built with his life partner and musical collaborator, Ruby Hunter. This beautiful, illustrated volume contains the lyrics to over 100 of their songs, carefully curated by Archie's manager and friend, Jill Shelton: from Archie’s breathtaking early works ‘Took the Children Away’ and ‘Charcoal Lane’, to the timeless classics ‘Tell Me Why’ and Ruby’s ‘Down City Streets’, to his final masterpiece ‘One Song’. The songs are accompanied by stories about their composition; rare photographs; handwritten lyrics; album covers and artwork; and heartfelt tributes to Archie and Ruby from fans and fellow musicians.

'With forewords by their long-time friends Paul Kelly and Emma Donovan, Songs from the Kitchen Table is a celebration of one of Australia’s great creative partnerships, and a tribute to the ongoing power of plain-spoken truths.' (Publication summary)

2024 longlisted Indie Awards Illustrated Non-fiction
y separately published work icon Tell Me Why : The Story of My Life and My Music Cammeray : Simon and Schuster Australia , 2021 20775966 2021 single work autobiography young adult

'‘There are many Australian stories, and mine is just one about what happened to me and other First Peoples of this country. It’s important for me to tell my story – because it’s not just part of my healing but of this country’s as well. We all have a story and as you read this book I would like you to think of your own story, what that means and who is also a part of your story.’     
'In his inspirational, highly acclaimed memoir – and including reflections from First Nations Elders and young people – Archie Roach tells the story of his life and his music. Only two when he was forcibly removed from his family, and brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, Archie’s world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of. It took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was. 
'Tell Me Why is an unforgettable story of resilience, strength of spirit and hope.'

Source : publisher's blurb

2022 shortlisted Prime Minister's Literary Awards Young Adults' Fiction
2022 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Book of the Year for Older Children
2021 winner New South Wales Premier's History Prize New South Wales History Prize Young People's History Prize
2021 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Audiobook of the Year
y separately published work icon Tell Me Why : The Story of My Life and My Music Cammeray : Simon and Schuster Australia , 2019 16745125 2019 single work autobiography

'One of the most powerful and highly anticipated Australian stories to be told.

'No one has lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.

'Roach was only a few years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.

'In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Roach’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Roach voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.

'Tell Me Why is a stunning account of resilience and the strength of spirit – and of a great love story.' (Publication summary)

2020 shortlisted Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Award for Non-Fiction
2021 shortlisted National Biography Award
2021 winner Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Audiobook of the Year
2021 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Prize for Indigenous Writing
2020 shortlisted Booksellers Choice Award BookPeople Book of the Year Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year
2020 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Biography of the Year
2020 winner Indie Awards Nonfiction
Last amended 12 Jun 2023 07:24:42
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